Out of the 36 children missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, only 20 have been identified so far, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday in his address at the naming ceremony of the “Park of Missing Children of the Turkish Invasion 1974” in Nicosia.
President Christodoulides announced that the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth will proceed with the naming of 36 halls throughout the country in primary schools, secondary schools and high schools, in memory of these children, underlining the need to inform the new generations about the Cypriot tragedy.
Speaking at the event, President Christodoulides said that “as a father, I cannot even imagine the position of the parents whose children are missing”, adding that it is in this context, that the effort in the framework of the strategic planning of the Humanitarian Affairs Office for the missing and enclaved Persons over the years is to highlight this purely humanitarian aspect of the Cyprus problem, such as the issue of the children missing since the Turkish invasion,
He noted that of the 36 missing children, only 20 have been identified so far, with the youngest child being only 6 months old and the oldest 17 years old.
President Christodoulides noted that “as a father, as a citizen of this country, as President of the Republic of Cyprus, I promise you that I will do my utmost to reunite our country which is still suffering from Turkish invasion and occupation” adding that unfortunately, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the invasion.
The Head of Humanitarian Affairs Office for the missing persons and the enclaved, Anna Aristotelous, stated in her address that the Office stands by the side of the relatives of the missing persons, joining their voice, with the sole aim of determining the fate of each and every one of the missing persons. The aim, she continued, is to safeguard the human rights of the missing persons and their relatives, to provide support and meet their needs.
Aristotelous underlined that establishing the fate of the missing persons is a matter of crucial importance and “that is why we have extended our efforts and diversified the process of approaching every possible person who may provide information”.
She mentioned that “we no longer use the police methods of obtaining an interrogation profile,” adding that with this change, the flow of information has increased, with very positive results, so that in one month there were six new identifications.
In a touching and emotional moment of her speech, Aristotelous read out the names of the 36 children, saying that these 36 innocent victims of Turkish atrocities constitute a special aspect of the Cypriot tragedy, perhaps the most tragic figure in the history of Cyprus.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.
A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots, who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and in 1974.
According to statistical data published on the CMP website by December 31, 2023 out of 2002 missing persons 1,228 were exhumed and 1,044 were identified. Out of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing persons 751 were identified and 759 are still missing. Out of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing persons 293 were identified and 199 are still missing.